Live trade dire, says LiveCorp chief
THE live animal export sector has almost halved in the past two years.
Giving evidence to a Seriate committee examining new legislation governing the sector, LiveCorp chief executive Kevin Shiell said the situation was dire for many exporters.
The new legislation is aimed at lifting standards across the export sector since the Corrno Express affair last year.
Mr Shiell said two years ago more than six million sheep were shipped overseas, and close to one million cattle. In the coming year, about three mil lion sheep were likely to be sent on ships and about 600,000 cattle.
"It's not the same level of industry that it was two years ago," he told the committee.
"Certainly in the sheep industry there is significant difficulty confronting the export sector."
Mr Shiell said the downfall in shipping numbers was partly due to the closure of the Saudi Arabian market to Australia .
Mr Shiell said other problems, including the high prices paid for sheep destined for the domes tic and overseas meat market, and recent dry conditions, were behind the fall in numbers.
Meat and Livestock Australia's manager of live exports, Mike Hayward, said about 10 per cent of all cattle and 17 per cent of all sheep were shipped overseas.
In WA, an even greater percentage of the flock is exported live, while almost all cattle from the Northern Territory were transported live. The WA Government has been asked to examine whether live sheep exports breach State animal cruelty laws amid concerns the RSPCA was failing in its mission.
An animal welfare group has handed over a file detailing cruelty claims relating to a shipment of sheep exported from Fremantle to Kuwait last November.
The Animals Australia file alleges the shipment breached Section 19(3)(1) of the WA Animal Welfare Act 2002, which makes it an offence to transport animals "in a way that causes or is likely to cause them unnecessary harm".
Their complaint was lodged with WA police on December 17 and referred to the RSPCA.
But Animals Australia accused the RSPCA of failing to act, and took the unprecedented step of withdrawing its complaint.
The Counrtyman Newspaper - 24 June 2004
AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS